How Phil Jackson Managed Michael Jordan in Eleven Rings

Do you know during his storied career as head coach of the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers, Phil Jackson won more championships than any coach in the history of professional sports. Even more important, he succeeded in never wavering from coaching his way, from a place of deep values.
Jackson was tagged as the “Zen master” half in jest by sportswriters, but the nickname speaks to an important truth: this is a coach who inspired, not goaded; who led by awakening and challenging the better angels of his players’ nature, not their egos, fear, or greed.

This is the story of a preacher’s kid from North Dakota who grew up to be one of the most innovative leaders of our time. In his quest to reinvent himself, Jackson explored everything from humanistic psychology and Native American philosophy to Zen meditation. In the process, he developed a new approach to leadership based on freedom, authenticity, and selfless teamwork that turned the hypercompetitive world of professional sports on its head.

Phil Jackson's memoir of his life as a basketball coach at the highest level doesn't have a single boring page.
It is not only hugely entertaining - it is tremendously and engrossingly revealing. What in the world did Jackson do to meld teams with superstars such as Jordan, Pippen, Rodman, Bryant, and O'Neal into bands of warrior-brothers, instead of the usual dysfunctional preening and sulking daddy-bought flash mobs of delicate entitled egos?

Jackson reveals, in his amazingly deep and relaxed, natural narrative, how it was done. It is inspiring - because it reveals with stunning clarity how expansive values are the best foundation for success in all fields, and not just NBA basketball. This book deserves to be place reverently on the shelf next to John Wooden's My Personal Best and Wooden on Leadership.

Eleven Rings by Phil Jackson is an outstanding book on Phil's playing and coaching career in the NBA. As someone who loves the NBA and grew watching Phil win these championship rings as a coach, this book was incredibly interesting to me and very difficult to put down.

No coach in any of the major professional sports has won as many championships as Phil Jackson has. Phil has also had the privilege of coaching a few of the NBA's all time greatest players in: Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, and Shaquille O'Neal (not to mention the long list of other all star and hall of fame players). With that kind of resume there is no question that Jackson would be a treasure trove of wisdom and leadership insights.

In Eleven Rings, Jackson candidly describes how he:
  • Learned the secrets of mindfulness and team chemistry while playing for the champion New York Knicks in the 1970s
  • Managed Michael Jordan, the greatest player in the world, and got him to embrace selflessness, even if it meant losing a scoring title
  • Forged successful teams out of players of varying abilities by getting them to trust one another and perform in sync
  • Inspired Dennis Rodman and other “uncoachable” personalities to devote themselves to something larger than themselves
  • Transformed Kobe Bryant from a rebellious teenager into a mature leader of a championship team.

Eleven times, Jackson led his teams to the ultimate goal: the NBA championship—six times with the Chicago Bulls and five times with the Los Angeles Lakers. We all know the legendary stars on those teams, or think we do. What Eleven Rings shows us, however, is that when it comes to the most important lessons, we don’t know very much at all. This book is full of revelations: about fascinating personalities and their drive to win; about the wellsprings of motivation and competition at the highest levels; and about what it takes to bring out the best in ourselves and others.

It is an important book. The world has entered an age of energy awareness (all the major inventions of the last 100 years have been about energy). In sports, wise use of energy (including human energy resources) is emerging as a foundation for highest success. In the NFL, Bill Walsh led the way. In the NBA, Jackson is the pioneer, showing how the game can rise above the soul- and sport-destroying obsession with money and ego to demonstrate that joy and success can be found in the same place.